Local News Articles

Icy Road Conditions Contributes to Traffic Accident on Braswell Lane

January 6, 2014
Dwayne Page
Chevy Tahoe driven by Anthony Black
2010 Chevy Equinox driven by 17 year old girl

Icy road conditions contributed to a traffic accident Monday afternoon on Braswell Lane.

Captain Steven Leffew of the Smithville Police Department told WJLE that a 17 year old Smithville girl was driving east in a 2010 Chevy Equinox when she apparently slid on an icy spot in the road while trying to negotiate a curve. Her car turned sideways in the street and into the path of a westbound 2007 Chevy Tahoe, driven by 58 year old Anthony Black of Smithville. Both vehicles went into a ditch after impact.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and DeKalb EMS came to the scene but there were no injuries.


January 6, 2014
Dwayne Page








Arrests Made for Burglary, Theft, Vandalism, and Domestic Assault

January 6, 2014
Dwayne Page
Edward Lee Judkins, Sr.
Michael Anthony Leichtfuss
Chrissy Michelle Evans

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has made arrests in recent days for burglary and theft, vandalism, and domestic assault.

51 year old Edward Lee Judkins, Sr. of Jefferson Road, Smithville was arrested on December 30 and charged with burglary and theft of property over $500. His bond is $10,000 and he will be in court on January 9th. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on November 20 Judkins allegedly broke into a shed at a residence on Adamson Branch Road. Entry was made by force and the door to the shed was damaged. Judkins allegedly took various weight equipment from the shed. The weight equipment was recovered from behind Judkins' camper trailer where he lives on Pea Ridge Road. The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the Sheriff's Department.

22 year old Michael Anthony Leichtfuss of Old Eagle Creek Road, Smithville is charged with vandalism under $500. His bond is $1,000. He will be in court on January 30. Sheriff Ray said that on December 8, Leichtfuss allegedly vandalized property on Johnson's Ridge Road, causing over $300 in damage to a door and door frame. The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the Sheriff's Department.

40 year old Chrissy Michelle Evans of West Main Street, Dowelltown is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $5,000 and she will be in court on January 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, January 5 a deputy was dispatched to Evans' residence on a domestic violence call. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with the victim, Evans' husband. He had a cut on his left ear and scratches on his hand and back. He told the officer that he had been attacked by his wife. When the deputy spoke with her, Evans allegedly admitted to attacking him. She was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

Roads Remain Hazardous

January 6, 2014
Dwayne Page

All roads in DeKalb County, primary and secondary roads, remain hazardous, according to Brad Mullinax, Director of the Central Dispatch/911 Center.

He advises motorists to stay at home unless travel is necessary. For updates on state road conditions, contact the Tennessee Highway Patrol at 931-526-6143. For other public assistance call Central Dispatch at 215-3000 or 911 in an emergency.

DeKalb Woman Gives Birth to First Baby of 2014 in Warren County

January 5, 2014
Dwayne Page
Aleisha Bunch with her newborn son Elliot

A DeKalb County couple are the proud parents of the year's first baby born in Warren County.

Elliot Bunch, son of Richard and Aleisha Bunch of Smithville, arrived at 7:54 a.m. on New Year's Day at River Park Hospital in McMinnville. The child reportedly weighed seven pounds and twelve ounces and was twenty one inches long. The baby boy was delivered by Dr. Vanessa Streicher.

The family received gifts from several local businesses in Warren County.


January 4, 2014
Dwayne Page
Schools to Re-Open


The remainder of the school calendar is as follows:

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 20 and for President's Day, Monday, February 17.

Schools will be closed for spring break March 24-28

No school for students on Good Friday, April 18 and Memorial Day, Monday May 26.

The following are designated as Early Release dates: Friday, February 14; Friday, March 7, and Friday, March 21
Students will not attend on Tuesday, May 27. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Wednesday, May 28. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, March 11 at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, March 13 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

Report cards to be sent home from all schools on Tuesday, January 7. DCHS report cards to be sent home Monday, March 10 and at all other schools Tuesday, March 11.

ACT Test for the 11th grade will be Tuesday, March 4

Writing Assessment for the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades will be February 3-7.

TCAP testing of elementary students will be April 28 through May 9

Road Supervisor Kenny Edge Will Not Seek a Seventh Term

January 2, 2014
Dwayne Page
Kenny Edge to Retire After Current Term as Road Supervisor

After working for the people of DeKalb County as their Road Supervisor for almost 24 years, Kenny Edge has decided the time has come to retire when his current term expires August 31.

The six term incumbent has announced that he will not be a candidate for re-election in 2014.

"They (supporters) beg me every day to run again. It's not that I don't love them and don't want to do the work. It's just I'm not as young as I used to be. I've enjoyed working for them (people of the county). I'm still their friend. I just feel like this is a time in my life that I need to retire and do the things I want to do," said Edge in an interview with WJLE Thursday.

Edge was first elected Road Supervisor in 1990 and he was re-elected in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010. Prior to 1990, Edge served the county in other capacities. "I've got 43 years in working for DeKalb County and I've enjoyed every bit of it. (Then County Judge) Billy J. LaFever hired me in 1971 when the new courthouse and new school houses were being built. I did the maintenance and electrical work. He wanted me to do all the mechanical work so I worked for the county as well as the school system together up until 1990 when I ran for this office," he said.

In spite of tight budgets, Edge said he has been able to manage his resources over the years to maintain as many roads and bridges as possible. "The roads in DeKalb County are better than they have ever been. Almost all roads are either paved or oiled and chipped but there are certain roads you can't spend that kind of money to upgrade, knowing when the first flood comes it is going to destroy it. But basically all of the roads are in good shape," said Edge.

"The bridges are basically in real good shape. Since I've been in office, I don't know how many federal bridge programs I've participated in. The last big one I built was on Smith Fork. I believe it was a $1.1 million project. We've built bridges across the county including several under the hill because most of the water problems are under the hill," he said.

Edge said he appreciates the support he has received from county mayors and county commissions over the years in helping the road department fund certain projects. " They have been good to work with me. They bought me a new wheel loader for the crusher and a new road grader in 1995. I also borrowed a million dollars and paved forty miles of road across this county. It took me ten years at $100,000 a month to pay it back but I've paid it all back," he said.

Asked if he had any regrets , Edge said he wishes he could have had the money to hot mix more roads. "Everybody loves hot mix and I do too. I'd like to have done more asphalt work instead of oil and chipping. I'd hot mix every road in this county if I had the money to do it. The average life of a good paved road is twenty years before you need to put a top on it. The average life of an oil and chipped road is about eight years. We (road department) can oil and chip a road, but we can't hot mix it because we have to contract it out. We don't have the equipment. Right now it costs right around $100,000 to pave a road twenty feet wide, two and a half inches deep, a mile long," said Edge.

"My total budget (revenues) is less than two million dollars. I carry over about a half a million dollars every year (fund balance) and budget it. I'll average $120,000 to $130,000 of new money (revenue) each month. I get it monthly. But if you bought $130,000 worth of hot mix each month then you wouldn't have enough to pay your hands, buy fuel, or do anything. You've got to keep your operation going," said Edge.

By saving where he could, Edge said he has been able to hot mix a few more miles of roads while meeting other needs of the department. "You've got to save as much as you can during the year so that maybe you can hot mix five or six miles of road. Sometimes you have to do that over a two year period. It just depends on what breakdowns you have or what equipment you need to buy. The last two new dump trucks I bought cost $121,000 each. Tires are also expensive. It's hard to operate on what money we get especially with the economy like it is," he said.

For the 2013-14 fiscal year, the DeKalb County Road Department is budgeted to receive almost two million in revenues, including over $1.4 million from its largest source, state gas tax revenues and more than $400,000 from the state aid program. The county budgets three cents of the property tax rate or $128,860 along with a mineral severance tax of $15,474. The department's fund balance (carry over from last year) was more than $378,000. Total appropriations for this budget year are projected to be $2.1 million.

Edge still makes use of the county rock crusher but it's mostly used on a seasonal basis now with a smaller staff to help man the department. "The rock crusher is in excellent shape. We use it but I don't run it 100% of the time because my work force has gone from twenty five to fifteen employees. They crush in the fall and winter but as soon as the grass gets up, I'll have them go to mowing," he said.

Like all public officials, Edge has his critics but he believes most people appreciates the job he has done. "I try to help everybody. I try to listen to them and try to do everything they ask me to do. I realize it's their highway department. Anybody who calls here and they need a tile put in, if they're building a house, I'll put them a tile in and fix them a driveway. I do it for everybody. It don't matter who they are or where they live in the county. I gravel every road to every cemetery. I always have. I fix everybody an entrance off a county road anywhere they want to" Edge continued.

In recent years, state auditors have noted findings in yearly audit reports concerning such practices by the county road department but Edge defends his work for the public. "I get wrote up saying you can't do that. It's frustrating how that the state has such a problem with me putting gravel or a tile in a driveway, but sees nothing wrong with the state putting down hot mix and installing guardrails to a dead end on private property in the midst of a cedar thicket on the side of a hill along side a state highway (referring to property at the foot of Snow Hill on Highway 70). I wish they would operate under the same law they want me to," he said.

Edge said he is thankful to the people of DeKalb County for supporting him all these years. "I want to thank all the people of this county for their trust in me and for voting for me. I love them all and I'll still help them anyway I can," he said.

As for his retirement, Edge said he has no particular plans. "I've got a farm I can play around on and do like some of the rest of them, run out here to Hardees every now and then and get me some coffee and a ham and biscuit," concluded Edge.

New Year's Day Fire Destroys Home (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

January 1, 2014
Dwayne Page
New Year's Day Fire Heavily Damages Smithville Home
New Year's Day Fire Heavily Damages Smithville Home

A New Year's Day fire swept through the residence of Andrew and Caitlin Wilbur at 904 West Main Street this morning (Wednesday)

911 received the call just before 1:00 a.m.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department rushed to the scene but could not save the home.

Shortly after the fire was spotted and reported, flames could be seen coming through the roof.

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker told WJLE that the Wilbur's were not home at the time of the fire and there were no injuries. He said the cause of the fire has not been determined.

This is the fourth home fire within the past three weeks in DeKalb County.

Members of the Smithville Police Department, Sheriff's Department, DeKalb EMS, and Smithville Electric System were also on the scene.

Election Commission to Issue Petitions for School Board Races

December 31, 2013
Dwayne Page
Dennis Stanley

While most of the attention has been focused on the May primary elections, petitions for the non-partisan school board seats will be available beginning Friday, January 3rd.

Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley said Friday is the first day petitions can be issued for the school board seats that will be up for election August 7th. Those seats are in Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7.

“School Board seats are considered non-partisan positions and thus are not on the ballot until August,” Stanley said. “As a result, the petition and qualifying dates were different from the May primary election cycle.”

Again, petitions for school board seats will be available beginning Friday and the qualifying deadline is NOON April 3.

Also, Stanley said the City of Smithville Municipal Election will be held in August and petitions for the Mayor and two Aldermen seats will also be available beginning Friday, January 3rd. The qualifying deadline will also be NOON April 3rd.

Meanwhile, petitions are still available for all the races that will be on the ballot for the DeKalb County Democratic Primary and the 13th Judicial District Democratic and Republican Primary elections. The qualifying deadline for those candidates is NOON February 20th.

Man Allegedly Caught Stealing Scrap Metal

December 31, 2013
Dwayne Page
Justin Keith Manley
 Killian Blake Ellis
Martha Cheyenne Silcox
Lydia Renee Judkins
John Thomas Bailey
Timothy Donald Bates

An 18 year old Murfreesboro man is charged with theft of property under $500 for trying to steal scrap metal from a property owner on Antioch Road.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said Justin Keith Manley is under a $1,500 bond and he will be in court on February 6.

According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy was called to Antioch Road on Wednesday, December 18 to a possible theft in progress. When the officer arrived, he saw two men and a woman loading a large pile of scrap metal onto a trailer. One of the men took off running through the woods when he saw the officer. The other man, Manley, and the woman stayed and spoke with the officer. The woman said that their landlord had given them permission to gather up the scrap metal. But a further investigation revealed that all the metal had actually been taken from the adjoining property of a neighbor. The officer found that a fence between the two properties had been cut.

Manley was placed under arrest for the crime. He was also issued a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia after the officer found a marijuana pipe in Manley's pocket.

20 year old Killian Blake Ellis of New Hope Road, Alexandria and 36 year old Martha Cheyenne Silcox of Hartsville Pike, Carthage were arrested on December 23 after a joint investigation by the Alexandria Police Department and Sheriff's Department detectives into the vandalism and theft from drink machines at Prichard's Foods on Brush Creek Highway.

Sheriff Ray said that on December 23, Ellis did vandalize a drink machine by using a pry bar to the door of the machine causing damage to the front and to the side of the machine. The damage cost over $1,000. Ellis was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

Meanwhile through an investigation, a detective learned that Silcox was the driver of a vehicle who dropped off and picked up Ellis. She was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

Sheriff Ray said more arrests are expected in the case.

Bond for Ellis and Silcox is $5,000 each and they will be in court on January 16.

A woman arrested recently on a failure to appear warrant is now facing more charges after she tried to conceal drugs and paraphernalia when brought to the jail.

26 year old Lydia Renee Judkins of Jefferson Road, Smithville is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of drugs in a penal institution. Her bond is $6,500 and she will be in court on January 9.

Sheriff Ray said that it is customary that when prisoners are brought to the jail, they are searched before being locked up. In this case officers asked Judkins if she had any contraband on her. She did not answer. As officers began to search her, Judkins produced two empty syringes, a small container of marijuana, and a bag of marijuana and three more empty syringes. She had tried to conceal these items in her body cavity.

43 year old John Thomas Bailey of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville is charged with assault and resisting arrest. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court on January 23. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, December 30, the sheriff's department was summoned to Bailey's home in answer to a domestic call. Upon arrival, officers spoke with Bailey. But during the conversation, Bailey became very irate with the officers. He approached the deputies and then pushed them. When placed under arrest for assault, Bailey refused to be handcuffed and had to be taken to the floor. While on the floor, he continued to struggle with the officers to keep them from handcuffing him. Bailey was subsequently handcuffed, placed under arrest for assault, and brought to the jail for booking.

53 year old Timothy Donald Bates of Williams Road, Alexandria is charged with a fourth offense of driving under the influence, and a sixth offense of driving while revoked. His bond is $17,500 and he will be in court January 16.

Sheriff Ray said that on December 21, a deputy was dispatched to Highway 70 in Liberty in response to reports of a reckless driver. The officer noticed a gold van traveling in the wrong lane and on the wrong side of the road. After stopping the vehicle, the officer made contact with the driver, Bates. His speech was slurred and he had a smell of alcohol on his person. He performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. Bates was arrested and brought to the jail for booking. A computer check revealed his license were revoked for a DUI. He was further issued a citation for failure to maintain his lane of travel.


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